Ecommerce is powerful way for B2B organzations to grow their businesses, however, there are many potential pitfalls along the way to bringing a site live. Any one of those mistakes can have costly consequences. To ensure your organization avoids some of the most dangerous of ecommerce pitfalls, here are the top 5 ecommerce mistakes that B2B organizations make and what you can do about them.
#5: Putting one department in charge of launching your ecommerce site. It’s not that your marketing or IT departments aren’t vested in the success of your ecommerce project when they are assigned to lead the charge–the probably are. Unfortunately, marketing will only see a potential solution from their perspective (e.g. “Will the resulting site have promotional capabilities? Will the site be pretty? How easy it is to update?”), whereas IT will tend to look at it from their own perspective (e.g. “Will this work with our current systems?”). B2B Ecommerce Solution: Create a cross-departmental ecommerce launch team with members from all of the critical areas in your organization. Doing so ensures that the solution you select is likely to be the best for everyone at your organization. Wondering who should be on your ecommerce launch team? Check out this article.
#4: Putting backend integration off until the end of the project. B2B ecommerce must be integrated to an organization’s enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer resource management (CRM) and content management systems (CMS) in order to be truly successful. Too often B2B organizations put integration off until the end of a project (typically at the suggestion of their ecommerce partners) and discover too late that they are missing critical functionality. B2B Ecommerce Solution: Choose an ecommerce partner that has successfully integrated to your backend systems and ask to speak to happy customers. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. If the ecommerce provider you are considering brushes off your questions about integration with a “Of course we can integrate” attitude, be wary. (Still not sure about integrating your ecommerce site with the rest of your business. Check out this article for more insight.)
#3: Forgetting that business buyers are consumers first. In the world of B2B ecommerce, there’s a tendency to forget that people who make purchases for their businesses are actually people. Quite often, B2B organizations build an ecommerce site that is better suited to mindless automatons (read: robots) than human beings. These sites are painfully functional; lack images, descriptive copy and functionality that might help the buyer make a purchase; and are often downright ugly. (Why should business buyers need a pleasant user interface??) B2B Ecommerce Solution: Create a business ecommerce site that rivals the design and functionality of retail sites. Engage the customer and provide the information he or she needs to secure the sale. Remember, B2B consumers expect a B2C retail-like online experience.
#2: Choosing their ERP’s ecommerce solution without considering other options. Your ERP vendor is good at offering enterprise resource planning software, so that means that their ecommerce software is a good choice, right? Not likely. Just like you wouldn’t go to a dentist to get your eyes examined, so you shouldn’t assume that your ERP vendor knows much about ecommerce other than its another source of revenue for them. B2B Ecommerce Solution: Consider the ecommerce providers that integrate with your ERP, not just the ecommerce store that your ERP provider makes available. (Want info on how to choose an ecommerce provider?)
#1: Choosing an ecommerce solution based solely on price. It’s no doubt that launching an ecommerce site can be spendy, but choosing an ecommerce solution should never come down to price alone. Making a core business decision based solely on the initial cash outlay can be dangerous and more costly in the long run. B2B Ecommerce Solution: While price will most always be a factor to some degree, look at whether an ecommerce solution will offer the functionality that you need for a price you can live with. (Learn how to choose your ecommerce solution on total cost over ownership rather than sticker price.)
In business, any and all mistakes come with a price. In ecommerce, making mistakes can result in an organization spending hundreds of thousands of dollars only to realize that they have to back and start over. Save yourself the time, the hassle, AND the money by dodging the most likely ecommerce pitfalls from the outset.
To learn how to launch a B2B ecommerce site successfully in 2013, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.